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There's something simple and elegant about piano transcriptions that an orchestra can never approach.
On the contrary I often find piano transcriptions of orchestral works awkward, because the pianist usually has got all too much to fill out with just two hands. Add to this the monochrome sound of the piano as opposed to the sound of an orchestra.
 
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Yes, this made the transcriptions useful 150 years ago. But to day, when phonographic reproduction is widespread, and pianos are a much more rare occurrence, transcriptions are pointless from the listeners point of view.
I enjoy some piano transcriptions, so I don't find them pointless. :)
 

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I'm usually tickled to see it all reduced down into something playable by one person. That should count for something.

Also, what they can't include is also interesting. Only 10 fingers and only piano sounds, so sometimes there's glaring omissions.
 
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Piano transcriptions are still another way to gain a new perspective on some great works, such as the famous Beethoven Symphony transcriptions by Franz Liszt. It's the spirit of an entire symphony being interpreted by one person and quite revealing of his or her ability to bring it to life.
These works may be exceptionally well transcribed by Liszt, but I only know one pianist who is consistently able (if we use recordings as our standard) to play them like anything else than simple piano reductions, and she is Idil Biret.
 

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Am not really a fan of the Salon-style repertoire etc., but George Copeland's rendition of the Prelude de lApres-Midi has a lot of poetry, and Hamish Milne's recording of Liszt's Ad Nos Fantasia in the Busoni transcription for piano is another favourite of mine. Nyiregyhazi's recordings of Liszt transcriptions can also be interestingly eccentric.
 

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Yes, this made the transcriptions useful 150 years ago. But to day, when phonographic reproduction is widespread, and pianos are a much more rare occurrence, transcriptions are pointless from the listeners point of view.
I love Bach keyboard music but dislike harpsichords and most organs, so transcriptions are far from pointless from this listener's point of view.
 

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I love Bach keyboard music but dislike harpsichords and most organs, so transcriptions are far from pointless from this listener's point of view.
Really it shouldn't need much of a transcription to take a work from harpsichord to piano, I mean you may have to make some adjustments if the piece needs two keyboards some of the time, but that's all. This isn't the same as moving from orchestra to keyboard, or from a cantata to piano (I'm thinking of those things that Walter Rimmel wrote.)

Organ is another matter, because of the sustain, the range and the complexity of the music - music which needs pedals and a couple of keyboard may be hard to transcribe in a way which reflects the harmonic and contrapuntal interest of the original.

But saying « I don't like organs » seems to me as strange as saying « I don't like wine » - there are so many different types that if you continue to explore you'll find some that you like I'm sure.
 

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I love Bach keyboard music but dislike harpsichords and most organs, so transcriptions are far from pointless from this listener's point of view.
This was not what I pointed to in the post of mine, you quote. Read Larkenfield's post (post 13) again and then mine (post 17). This was about the importance of transcriptions before we got phonographic reproduction.

BTW most transcriptions (for piano and for everything else) were made, because the transcriber wanted to play the music on his own instrument and only secondarily with the listener in mind.
 

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This was not what I pointed to in the post of mine, you quote. Read Larkenfield's post (post 13) again and then mine (post 17). This was about the importance of transcriptions before we got phonographic reproduction.

BTW most transcriptions (for piano and for everything else) were made, because the transcriber wanted to play the music on his own instrument and only secondarily with the listener in mind.
Larkenfield was talking pretty specifically about piano reductions of orchestral scores but was responding to Mandryka who appeared to be making a pretty generalized and global comment about transcriptions as a whole.

Disagree that most transcriptions were made for the benefit of the transcriber. Bach himself was a big transcriber of his own music, and he transcribed his music for the purposes of performance. Liszt transcribed as a showcase for performance. Busoni transcribed works for piano so that people could hear Bach's music.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
On the contrary I often find piano transcriptions of orchestral works awkward, because the pianist usually has got all too much to fill out with just two hands. Add to this the monochrome sound of the piano as opposed to the sound of an orchestra.
I mean, we all have a difference of opinions with regards to preferences. I was thinking more along the lines of trashiness or not.
 
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Really it shouldn't need much of a transcription to take a work from harpsichord to piano, I mean you may have to make some adjustments if the piece needs two keyboards some of the time, but that's all. This isn't the same as moving from orchestra to keyboard, or from a cantata to piano (I'm thinking of those things that Walter Rimmel wrote.)

Organ is another matter, because of the sustain, the range and the complexity of the music - music which needs pedals and a couple of keyboard may be hard to transcribe in a way which reflects the harmonic and contrapuntal interest of the original.

But saying « I don't like organs » seems to me as strange as saying « I don't like wine » - there are so many different types that if you continue to explore you'll find some that you like I'm sure.
Actually some people don't like wine. (Not me.)
 
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What? Not even premier cru Sauternes?
You'll have to ask a wine hater.

Today I listened to Demidenko's recording of the Busoni Transcription of the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat, BWV 552 (Sometimes called the St Anne). It is not a rote transcription, the organ pedals have to be integrated into the work, making use of piano pedals, etc. Very effective in capturing the august sonority of the organ in the prelude. The fugue starts off with a mouse-like smallness, but blossoms and comes to a satisfying conclusion. To pull it off the transcriber has to be a talented composer in his or her own right, as Busoni was. It is a wonderful transformation of the music that I would not want to be without (although it does not replace the proper organ version).
 

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Transcriptions are fine as a complement to the original. But Busoni's arrangement of Bach's Chaconne could never be a replacement for the genius of the original which is one of the greatest works ever written by anyone. I remember a young woman holding a whole Albert Hall audience spellbound with it. But the Busoni opens it out for pianists which is fine.
 

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Actually inspired by this thread I did a bit of investigation on Busoni's attitude to transcription, which seems to be quite complicated not least because he changed his point of view, and the well known Bach/Busoni paradigm may not be the best way to hear his final ideas. I've been surprising myself by how much I've been enjoying the Elegies. Normally I can't go near this sort of music without feelingthe urge to run away.

Hamelin plays them, they're like parodies of music by Mozart, Luther and indeed his own music. Parody as in parody mass. Unfortunately Mein Seele Bant doesn't seem to be on youtube so I can't post a link.
 

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Transcriptions are fine as a complement to the original. But Busoni's arrangement of Bach's Chaconne could never be a replacement for the genius of the original which is one of the greatest works ever written by anyone. I remember a young woman holding a whole Albert Hall audience spellbound with it. But the Busoni opens it out for pianists which is fine.
The Brahms, which really is a simple piano reduction, "opens it out for pianists." The interesting question is why exactly Busoni decided to embellish the music so much.
 

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I mean, we all have a difference of opinions with regards to preferences. I was thinking more along the lines of trashiness or not.
I presuppose, that we are talking about transcriptions for piano exclusively. As I wrote above, I always find the original compositions better than any transcription for piano. But this does not imply, that I think all transcriptions are trashy. There are good transcriptions (many of which were made by Liszt) and trashy transcriptions (Busoni's "transcription" of Bach's BWV 1052 e.g.). But I do not quite understand this "everything must be transcribed for piano" attitude. Is it so hard for even a serious classical music listener to listen to anything but piano?
 
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